Great science fiction can widen our horizons, and challenge our assumptions about space, time, and humanity. Movies in particular allow the wonder and imagination of sci-fi storytelling to take flight. By combining dynamic, breathtaking visuals with imaginative storylines, science fiction films can be truly transportive—even if you're just streaming at home from the comfort of your couch.
Check out our recommendations below for 16 of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now. From the horrific to the heartwarming, these sci-fi flicks dare to reimagine life as we know it, and feature everything from old-school classics to recent blockbusters. Grab some popcorn and get ready for adventure: These are the movies you need to stream this October.
This post will be updated monthly to reflect changes to streaming.
Based on the Southern Reach trilogy by Alex Garland, Annihilation is follows a group of four female scientists venturing into a mysterious and dangerous forest region known as The Shimmer, or Area X. During their voyage into the weird and ominous heart of The Shimmer, the group uncovers unsettling information about the ill-fated expeditions that came before them. Director Alex Garland uses the unforgettable and often disturbing imagery of Area X biology to explore profound human experiences, and the result is a movie that's as challenging as it is memorable. Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, and Tessa Thompson.
The first English-language film from The Host director Bong-Joon ho, Snowpiercer is a brilliant, thrilling vision of a steampunk apocalypse. The world has descended into a new Ice Age after human efforts to reverse climate change go awry. The last survivors of the human species are passengers on Snowpiercer, a massive train with a perpetual motion machine engine. Snowpiercer passengers are divided into a strict class system, and the passengers in the train's tail are the lowest of the low and forced to subsist on food scraps. Curtis (Chris Evans) orchestrates a revolt among the tail to overthrow the decadent class in the engine. But the inhumane Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton) is determined to keep the class system intact, no matter how much blood must be spilled to maintain the Snowpiercer status quo.
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Ant-Man and the Wasp
A relatively lighthearted superhero movie — at least when compared to its MCU predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War — Ant-Man and the Wasp picks up with Paul Rudd as teeny-tiny criminal-turned-crime-fighter Scott Lang, and Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne. Hope and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) believes there's a chance Hope's mother Jane Van Dyne may still be alive in the liminal quantum realm, a realm Scott was briefly trapped in. During his time imprisoned on the sub-atomic level, Scott became linked to Janet. Father, daughter, and ant attempt to make meaningful contact with Janet again — but their experiments are complicated by a space-jumping villain who moves through walls as easily as a ghost.
Blade Runner 2049
A sequel to the 1982 cyberpunk classic Blade Runner, 2049 stars Ryan Gosling as K, a blade runner who works for the Los Angeles Police Department hunting down replicants. K uncovers the remains of a replicant who died during birth, shocking evidence that replicants, like humans, can reproduce biologically. Ordered to prevent this information from being leaked and heightening tensions further between replicants and humans, K is enlisted to track down, and retire, the child of the dead replicant. Also starring Harrison Ford reprising his Blade Runner role of Rick Deckard, Blade Runner 2049 is a fitting follow-up to Ridley Scott's classic.
The Wandering Earth
This 2019 Chinese film is an adaptation of the novella of the same name by Cixin Liu, author of the acclaimed Remembrance of Earth's Past series. Netflix now has global streaming rights to The Wandering Earth, which broke major box office records when it premiered in China earlier this year. The film follows a mission to move Earth out of our solar system and into the Alpha Centauri system, before the Sun completes its transformation into a Red Star and destroys the last remnants of human civilization. After 17 years, the operation is approaching successful completion when a disaster near Jupiter imperils the astronauts — and everyone left alive on Earth. You can see a trailer for the celebrated sci-fi epic below.
The third movie from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, Chappie is set in a near-future dystopian South Africa. Order in Johannesburg is maintained by an army of human-like droids, but their creator Deon (Dev Patel) longs to build an artificial intelligence capable of more than tactical violence. Using the parts of a police droid damaged in the line of duty, Deon experiments with a new artificial consciousness that could allow droids to emulate human intuition and emotions.
Given that intriguing plot and the success of Blomkamp's first feature, expectations were high for Chappie, and the movie by and large doesn't live up to them. However, if you're a fan of District 9 or if you're interested in the ethics of robotics and the questions surrounding artificial intelligence, it's certainly worth a watch at home.
Wakanda forever! Following the sudden death of his father, King T'Chaka, Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to lead the African country of Wakanda. But his ascent to the throne is threatened by a brutal usurper: soldier Erik Stevens, known by the sinister name of Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan).
Killmonger wants to share Wakanda's secret technology with African people throughout the world. Although he makes compelling arguments against Wakanda's isolationism, Killmonger is indiscriminately violent in the name of his cause, and threatens to topple Wakanda in his quest to liberate.
This Marvel movie boasts an absolutely all-star cast, including Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker. Stream it tonight and see why this tour-de-force was such a record-smashing success.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Disney's second Star Wars anthology film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, had a famously troubled production, and ultimately became the first Star Wars Disney movie to lose money. Regardless, Solo is still worth streaming if only for Donald Glover's ridiculously charming personification of young Lando Calrissian. The story follows young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) as he escapes his miserable life on Corellia, flunks out of Imperial Flight Academy, and ultimately talks his way into a gang of thieves intent on stealing a shipment from brutal crime boss Dryden Vos. Along the way, Han meets Lando, reunites with his long-lost lover Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), and plays a historic game of sabacc.
Based on Josh Malerman's book of the same name, this tense post-apocalyptic movie stars Sandra Bullock as Marjorie, a woman leading two children—referred to as 'boy' and 'girl'—on a harrowing journey to safety. Five years prior, Marjorie was pregnant with her first child when the world around her descended into total chaos. Mass suicides caused by mysterious creatures that are deadly to look at led to the collapse of society. During the initial chaos, Marjorie found refuge in a house with covered windows. But her temporary home can't shelter her forever. Spurred on by rumors of a safe community further along the river, Marjorie and the two children begin a dangerous journey in which they must travel blind through an unfamiliar world.
Avengers: Infinity War
The most epic and emotionally compromising movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date, 2018's Avengers: Infinity War was the culmination of 10 years of MCU movies. The massive-in-scope film sees the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and other heroes facing off against Thanos (Josh Brolin). Thanos is determined to wield the complete Infinity Gauntlet, which will give him unfathomable power over life throughout the universe. Stream this sobering superhero movie on Netflix, and be more than ready for when the MCU prequel film Captain Marvel—which looks to be a lot less depressing—premieres in March.
The Girl With All the Gifts
Based on the book of the same name by M.R. Carey, The Girl With All the Gifts is a hard sci-fi zombie story with heart. Young Melaine (Sennia Nanua) doesn't truly understand how different she is from other children. A young 'hungry,' Melanie and the fellow pupils at her military school are carriers of the fungal infection which decimated civilization in the U.K. But rather than spending their lives mindlessly eating and hunting, Melanie and her peers are intelligent and empathetic. Melanie loves her teacher Miss Justineau (Gemma Arteron), and doesn't know why she flinches when Melanie offers her a hug. When their military base is overrun, Melanie and her beloved teacher escape. Outside of the confines of her school for the first time in memory, Melanie learns firsthand who — and what — she really is.
This Marvel movie is part sci-fi, part fantasy, and all fun. Director Taika Waititi—also known for his work on comedy projects like Flight of the Concords and What We Do in the Shadows—breathes new life into the God of Thunder with this irreverent, colorful addition to the MCU.
After the death of Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his villainous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) must face down their older sister Hela (a stunning Cate Blanchett) to prevent Asgard from total ruin. Tessa Thompson steals the show as Valkyrie, a former Asgardian warrior who now captures slaves for the Grandmaster of Sakaar (Jeff Goldblum) to fund her drinking.
The Last Jedi
The most recent—and controversial—installment in the Star Wars episodic films, The Last Jedi is a gorgeous, gripping addition to the Skywalker saga.
As Rey (Daisy Ridley) begins her Jedi training on the isolated planet of Ahch-To under the unwilling eye of a disillusioned Luke (Mark Hamill), the movie challenges the tropes Star Wars fans have come to expect from the galaxy far, far away. In doing so, director Rian Johnson opens up a new universe of possibilities about what the Force can be, and who gets to wield it.
If, to paraphrase Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), you can let some of your preconceived notions about Star Wars go, The Last Jedi is a breathtaking and groundbreaking ride—and it features possibly the greatest fight scene in the history of the franchise.
A Netflix original, this Australian zombie movie is a smart addition to the genre that will thrill fans of The Girl With All the Gifts or Train to Busan. Andy (Martin Freeman) and his wife are attempting to outrun a zombie pandemic via boat. But when disaster strikes, Andy must make a grueling, days-long trek across the outback in order to bring his infant daughter to safety. Andy's odyssey coincides with the journey of Thoomi (Simond Landers), an aboriginal tribe member whose father has recently been infected.
To say much more about the plot risks spoiling some of Cargo's appeal. Suffice to say, if you're a fan of zombie movies that delve into the emotional weight of an outbreak, you'll love this tense, unique addition to the genre.
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Heralded by critics as Netflix’s first great film and from the mind of Snowpiercer’s Joon-ho Bong, this emotionally wrenching drama doubles as an environmental morality tale. Okja is a thoughtful, visually awing, and perpetually relevant criticism of our food systems that’s delivered through a relationship between genetically modified pig Okja and her young owner. Forewarning: watching will probably make you experience every emotion ever.
A Netflix original from Moon director Duncan Jones, Mute is a cyberpunk mystery set in future Berlin. Alexander Skarsgard stars as Leo, a bartender whose throat was damaged in a childhood accident. Leo is intent on finding Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh), his missing partner, and he'll comb through as much of the seedy underbelly of the high-tech city as he needs to do so.
Jones has described Mute as a "spiritual successor" to Moon, but unfortunately the new film isn't as smart or emotionally affecting as its predecessor. Still, it's worth a watch if only for the undeniably impressive, Blade Runner-reminiscent visuals.
Promotional poster from "Blade Runner 2049" via Marvel Entertainment